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04 February 2020

CMYK Color Printing

Israel: CMYK Color Printing, 4 February 2020. Images from Israel Post.

Issue Date: ט’ שבט תש”פ 04/02/2020
Stamp: CMYK Color Printing
Designer: Tuvia Kurtz & Miri Nistor
Denomination (in NIS): 16
Size of Stamp: 50 mm x 35 mm
Plate: 1146
Stamps per Sheet: 4
Tabs per Sheet: 4
Method of Printing: Offset
Security Mark: Microtext
Printer: Cartor Security Printing, France

The most common method of color printing is known as CMYK, which is an acronym for the basic colors that, when combined, create the full range of hues. Combining the correct amounts of Cyan (blue), Magenta (pink) and Yellow in the printing press makes it possible to achieve most of the colors needed to print stamps.

Theoretically, the color black can be made by combining all three of these basic colors, but in order to achieve a clear and uniform shade of black, it is customary to print it as an additional color, known by printers as Key. In exceptional cases when a very specific hue is required, or when incorporating a metallic color such as silver
or gold, an additional color will be utilized in the printing process, but most stamps are printed using only the four basic colors.

Before printing, during the “color separation” stage, four printing plates are prepared, one for each of the colors.

The special sheet, which features four stamps on the bottom row and three rows of labels (which are not postage stamps), represents the products of each of the printing plates and the intermediate products obtained as each color is added on top of the last. The top row of the sheet shows the products of each plate separately in order to demonstrate the process, but in reality only the black label actually exists during the printing process (as it is the first color printed). Each of the following rows features the result after adding the second and third colors (cyan and magenta) and the row of stamps presents the result after the last color (yellow) is added, completing the process.

Close attention is paid to the precise placement of the printing of each color. Numerous special printing marks are incorporated into the margins of the printing sheet to help printers ensure that the final image is sharp and clear. One of the key printing symbols, that looks like a colored circle split into four, is featured in the special cancellation that was prepared for the CMYK Color Printing stamps.

The CMYK Color Printing stamp sheet gives collectors a rare view of the stamp production process and serves as a glimpse into the world of the designers and printers who produce Israel’s beautiful stamps.


The Chlorurus is a colorful parrot fish that lives in the shallow sea, around coral reefs. This fish’s mouth is hard and shaped like a parrot’s beak. The Chlorurus has hundreds of sharp teeth arranged in rows which it uses to bite the coral and eat the algae growing there. Cleaning the algae from the coral helps the reef grow and prevents it from being covered in a layer of algae. The fish’s bright colors fit in well with the background of the colorful coral and allow it to hide from predators.

The illustration shows a simple version of the printing process – the paper passing through the four rolls of the basic colors (from left to right) and the fish jumping between them, with each roll adding another color, like in the printing process: at first there is only the black and by the end there is a full color image achieved by the four-color process.

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